This was spawned by a combination of two things which piqued my interest:
- Once-a-month cooking (OAMC). The idea is, you spend one day cooking most of the meals you will eat for the month, then freeze them for later eating. I was initially introduced to this concept through the website Once a Month Mom.
- The Whole30 Program. This is a wildly-popular elimination diet in which many people choose to participate for 30 days. The idea is to assess your food sensitivities/intolerances while changing your eating habits for the better.
|Make-ahead easy Thai curry with cauliflower rice|
So the gears turned in my brain and I made a connection...once a month cooking...whole thirty...one month...30 days...heyyyyy wait a minute. You get the idea: OAMC for the month that you're doing the Whole 30. I figure that it would support adherence because it no longer becomes inconvenient. Just take a meal out of the freezer, thaw, and eat. Even if you are not doing a strict Whole 30, if you eat paleo/primal or low-carb this menu is suitable for you.
|Make-ahead Italian brunch bake|
I read It Starts With Food, which is the definitive guide to the Whole 30, to ensure that I thoroughly understood the rules as well as the spirit. If you are choosing to actually do the program, I highly recommend reading the book, as it answered all of the questions I had (plus it has some awesome recipes in the appendix!). There are also a few free cheat sheets here on the authors' site.
Thus, I decided on the following guiding principles:
- Meals must fit the Whole30 Meal-Planning Template. Simply having "legal" ingredients is not sufficient.
- Along the same lines as (1), veggies must be included.
- Veggies should be non-starchy. Sweet potatoes and similar are Whole 30 legal. However, it seems that most people have trouble getting enough fibrous veggies. Moreover, I've noticed that the bulk of freezer recipes just include starches (or no veggies at all). So I wanted to offer a unique perk. You can always add a baked sweet potato to your meals if you'd like, particularly for post-workout nutrition.
- Veggies should (mostly) be make-ahead. Most of the freezer meals I've seen which include non-starchy veggies require that the vegetables are prepared the day of serving. To me, this defeats the purpose.
- No "alternative" flours like almond meal, coconut flour, milled flax, or arrowroot. This is somewhat arbitrary as Whole30 does not expressly forbid them (though paleo-tized fascimiles are verboten) but I felt like it was keeping in the spirit of the program to just leave them out.
- No hard-to-find ingredients. For example, you can technically get sugar-free bacon, but it's not something you can pick up at any supermarket.
- Meals should be easy to prepare, but tastier than a simple quick-fix.
- Reasonably inexpensive ingredients.
|Slow-cooker chicken curry with greens|
Tricia of Once a Month Mom wrote a series on how to create your own menu, which I used extensively as a reference. Some notes on how my menu ended up:
- As per Tricia's recommendation, this makes 3 breakfasts, 3 lunches, and 8 dinners, each of which will be eaten twice in the month. I assumed that this will be serving two people, so each recipe makes four servings to result in two meals. I decided to go with two people because I don't know anything about feeding kids. Sorry :( Feeding four people? Just double all the recipes. Serving only one? Recruit a friend who is doing a Whole 30, cook everything together, then divide the booty!
- You've likely deduced from the above that this does not make every single meal for thirty days. According to Tricia, this accounts for the fact that some nights you will "stick to PB&J, go out to eat, or be out of town". Likely you won't eat PB&J on Whole30 (unless it's in bunless burger form) and will rarely go out to eat. However, I'm sure there will be plenty of times that you're just making a quick fix like scrambled eggs or a pan-seared steak. But if you want more freezer meals, just increase the quantities.
- What if it is too much food? Or you just don't feel like doing so much cooking on one day? Tricia gives directions for creating a mini menu from a larger one.
- There ended up being a lot of chicken, but I noted some possible meat substitutions if you prefer.
- All that being said, if you are altering recipe quantities or making substitutions just bear in mind that you will have to account for the changes yourself as I do not do so in the instructions.
- I assumed that all crock pot recipes will be cooked the day of serving, rather than frozen after cooking, because it is so easy to do.
- Here is a list of lots of resources to help you with OAMC.
Now, onto the recipes!
Instructions for your big cooking day are available in this Google Doc.
- Curried lamb in zucchini boats (optional cauliflower "rice"; can substitute ground beef if you prefer)
- Slow-cooker chicken curry with greens (optional cauliflower "rice"; can substitute lamb or beef chunks if you prefer)
- Apple butter BBQ drumsticks, guacamole slaw (can substitute a pork roast if you prefer)
- Crispy roast chicken with artichokes, turnips, and sun dried tomatoes
- Crock pot sausage, peppers, and onions with spaghetti squash
- Coffee braised chile beef, mashed cauliflower (use the simple dairy-free variation for the cauliflower)
- Salmon with green beans, tomatoes, and olives
- Slow-cooker pork chops with apples, onion, and sauerkraut
Are you a person who likes to see menus visually? Check out the Whole30 OAMC menu on Pinterest.